After he returned from 3 weeks in Lyon, France, Emerson offered me his journal to read. As I read, I wondered about the whys of his ways. He chatted with Marina on the first day. He struck up a conversation with Rosina and Stephan at dinner. He accompanied Romain to his workshop. Talked with Sid and Jean Pierre in the park—just to name a few local folks. Why? After walking all over the city, why did he continue going back to Place Sathonay, rather than other compelling spots? (more…)

Our friend Sergio has a dream tucked beneath layers of rust in a salvage yard.

Whenever we need an old unique piece made of iron, we go to see Sergio. He’s been tirelessly collecting everything iron for decades now, and his collection is indeed impressive. He has meticulously gathered everything from enormous iron gates from the largest villas in Tuscany, to the miscellaneous small parts to make them work. He has old statues, machines, beds and swords. You name it. He has it. (more…)

On a brisk, cool Saturday morning in September, we set out on our trek through the French countryside. From Rue de Saint Jacques in the town of Le Puy-en-Velay to Conques, toward Toulouse, the trail known as the GR 65, wends its way through some of the prettiest French villages in the country. Within minutes, we were on the pilgrims’ footpath, leading to Santiago, Spain, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. But we weren’t going that far . . . not even close . . . not this time. Our plan was to cover only a little over 200 kilometers (125 miles) in 10 days. Next year, perhaps we’ll walk another section. We’ll see. Our conclusion is that those medieval pilgrims were some pretty tough cookies indeed! (more…)

Bicycles have clearly been a major mode of transportation in cities around the world for decades—especially in Europe. Nothing new about that. But with each great idea comes a few new problems to solve. For example: theft, maintenance, safety, storage, and more. But those problems are becoming a thing of the past with the latest version of Bike Sharing. The third generation systems are successfully in use around the world. And, the fourth generation is arriving soon! (more…)

Mailman by day and architect by night. Poet and visionary. In his own words chiseled into the walls of his beloved Palais Idéal, Ideal Palace, he said the following: “In creating this rock, I wanted to prove what the will can do,” and “work of only one man.” His life is truly an incredible story of single-handed persistence and possibility! (more…)

Many people have asked us over the years, “How did that fantastic international game of Bocce Bale ever get started, anyway?”

Well . . . once upon a time . . . three years ago, we were out on our evening meadow walk with our friend Joan. It happened to be the end of June, and Stefano, our local farmer friend had just cut and baled the grass in the fields. Well . . . Joan is an artist, and as you might expect, was captivated by the beauty of the sculptural round forms dotting the landscape. We all talked about them as we walked, playfully winding our way in and out of the geometric grass cylinders, marveling at the beauty of nature. (more…)

Gordon Matthew Sumner wore a favorite black and yellow striped shirt so often, that a friend finally blurted out that he looked like a bee. The nickname stuck. You might know him better today as Sting.

We’ve always enjoyed his particular style of jazz/rock, and have waited for him to show up in concert in our neighborhood for a decade or so. That day finally arrived, and it was well worth the wait. He played at a place called Piazzola sul Brenta, which is a town not far from Venice, Verona, and Padova. Piazzola was never a particularly noteworthy destination until they decided to develop the magnificent 16th century Villa Contarini (attributed to the famous architect Andrea Palladio,) into an unbelievable concert venue. Now, it has worldwide acclaim, and for very good reason! (more…)

Every once in a while we run across an absolute gem—something completely unexpected that makes us breathe a collective, “Ahhhh!”

In early June we encountered such a gem: a lovely bed and breakfast in Ronchamp, called La Maison D’hôtes du Parc.

By now we are pretty capable travelers, having stayed in a range of places. Sure there’s been an occasional dive—some place, somewhere in the middle of nowhere with only a hope to sleep through the night. But generally, we find places that are worth a return visit. And some, warrant and guarantee many happy returns. (more…)

A mad dash between trains: the one from Lure, France arrived 30 minutes late. 5:45 pm, and the one to Vernon was scheduled to depart in 7 minutes.

We raced to the ticket machine. It was less than agreeable. In fact, it refused to issue the tickets that we’d selected. So we just ran for the train. We’d buy tickets on board, paying a premium for the privilege, no doubt. (more…)

An invitation arrived 6 months ago by email. Simple. Straightforward.

The message read, “At their place in Tuscany, some friends are hosting an event to launch my latest book, Etruscan Evenings. We hope you’ll be able to join us! Kind regards, Linda Lambert.”

Linda included the names of her “Tuscan” hosts, Baron William, and Baroness Miranda Taxis, who were nearing completion of their renovated casa colonica, farmhouse just south of Arezzo. (Linda even included them in the book.) Since we’d given up fancy events some dozen or so years ago, we hesitated. But, we’d read both of Linda’s books and we wanted to support her dreams and efforts. This was definitely an interesting invitation—a unique chance to meet some British expats, enjoy our friends Linda and Morgan, and mingle with a diverse group of people. The idea of being in one of Tuscany’s ancient homes, coupled with the anticipation of a mini road-trip through the enchanting countryside, clinched the deal. (more…)